Thursday, October 24, 2013

Which of These Has Greater Aggregate Value?

  • The work of the "best"
  • The work of the "best" alongside everyone else, i.e. "the rest"
Say what? Is this some kind of a trick question? After all people generally depend on the work and active engagement of both, don't they...First, in what sense are we posing the wealth capacity of the best and everyone else? For one thing, it's not clear whether we should pose the matter from a societal point of view, or rely on the viewpoints of, mmm, specific institutions - government included because of today's growing "disability" environment.

Plus, if we take the normative institutional point of view as a given, who or what could represent "the rest" realistically? That is, how might representation of "the rest" occur in non-institutional but well understood and practical terms? It seems the answer to this is all but forgotten, thus a major responsibility of the present would be to redefine the answer. For when society neglects to do this, "the rest" once again become enslaved in countless ways, or at the very least, consigned to solitude.

And when governments act like other institutions which (of necessity) have only limited interests, viewpoints and missions, they cannot assist in coordinating or smoothing the goal sets between institutional and individual aspirations. In other words, people need to find cohesiveness between societal obligations and production capacities that their governments have refused to consider. Otherwise, only the best will ever be able to contribute collective wealth value, and without the contribution of the rest, the contribution of the best is gradually worn down.

But presently this remains difficult to think about. Even in an ordinary economic sense, quite a few people might agree with the first answer: the work of the best would be adequate now, thank you. There's only so much time in a day to think or worry about the rest and supposedly that time has run out (or so it seems, monetarily speaking). Consequently, do we all agree that the first answer is correct and that the second point is moot? (snark intended) That is, if "everyone else" doesn't have the same income producing capacity for the access they "require", then the work that counts will be portioned to the best. 

Perhaps one of the least appealing aspects of advanced civilization is when people begin to reason that others should not be allowed to "fend" for themselves, in that no real existing economic "space" is left for them to do so. And yet, they are chastised when they don't find means to fend for themselves anyway! More importantly though, a lack of economic space is not just an abstract matter. For not only does the lack of space also imply a lack of economic access. It also means not having a true capacity to meaningfully reciprocate with others as a friend or fellow human being, to the degree that human nature desires. Even though we need for others to be able to "hear" us: we are reluctant to "go there" if the status is somehow different - which it invariably is in an age of economic polarization on consumption based terms.

When it is reasoned that only the work of the best is needed, we are left in a world which tends to be very busy or oddly, scarcely busy at all. That in turn creates circumstances where those who are already busy, understandably doesn't have time to listen or otherwise engage with those who are not. What's more, the person who is not busy may not have a similar set of circumstances with others around him, that could make him an effective listener.

And yet, a similar set of circumstances for being (like others) should not have to be so important in the first place. The problem is that when living environments go unexamined for too long in terms of their restrictions, entire sets of decisions or choice possibilities fall away from the individuals who can no longer uphold those unexamined societal expectations. Which means that as a listener, he cannot participate in the choice sets he might hear, therefore he may not be able to relate to them.

When people had multiple economic roles and purposes which went beyond money, workforce participation numbers were - fortunately - not the same vital element of economic access that they present in the present. But in recent memory, most anything anyone does in society now involves the use of money, even if not directly. Small wonder - just the same - that what appears to be reasonable requests on the part of economists for sufficient aggregate demand (as a monetary stabilizer), may not make sense to those who already believe the work of the best is all that really matters. Some policymakers and central bankers are remembering a world where it was not necessary for everyone to have access to money (in order to have a life that made sense), but that world is gone.

The problem for us as a society is not that institutions do not tend to our each and every need, for they are organizationally in a position where it is quite impossible for them to do so - even if they wanted to. No, it is up to society to determine how to fill in the multiple gaps where the economic life of institutions leaves off, and where the economic and social life of everyone else can begin anew. What's more, earlier forms of government are no longer sufficient for this challenge, and in reality have not been since people left the farms in the twentieth century, for the towns and the cities.

When governments become about little more than special interests, retirement pensions, military and surveillance operations, they no longer serve the purpose to society that they once did, and the work of creating new social networks between our institutions needs to be reimagined. What's more, governments need to get out of the way of their own people, so that their own people can rescue themselves. Otherwise, we have little means of tapping into the immense wealth potential which could otherwise be lost, beyond the realm of "the best".

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